So many couples are getting engaged around this time of year, and we thought it would be a great time to share some of our experiences from this wedding season. We have had so many amazing families get their start at The Neidhammer in 2018! We saw and experienced so much with helping brides bring their unique ideas and visions to life, and many times we did it without help from a planner.
The Neidhammer is somewhat unique in the world of venues in that we do not require brides to use certain vendors (caterers, linens, florists, etc.) or some of the other requirements we've seen. This allows our brides to give flight to their dreams, but it can also presents certain challenges. These challenges often pop up in sub-par vendors or too much gear to try and move in or move out. It can also cause additional stress in brides as they become overwhelmed by the enormity and complexity of the project they are planning. For most people, their wedding will be the largest, most expensive, and most complex event they will ever plan and execute.
This is why we’ve put together our recommendations for alleviating stress during the planning and enjoying the day you planned!
1. Know your total budget before you contract with anyone, and break down your budget into categories.
What is the "Oh, Heck No" dollar for your day? The venues you look at may have required catering with their packages, and the minimums can be $5,000.00 - $25,000.00 for the food. Know what you have to spend before you go out.
Options you will be confronting are food, beverages, alcohol, DJ, decorations, transportation, hotel blocks, dress, tuxedos, bridesmaid dresses, photographer, videographer, etc. And yes, there are a LOT of expensive options out there!
2. Be a little flexible with your wedding date and day of the week.
Believe it or not, other people might want to get married on the same day you do at the venue you have your heart set on. They may have also gotten there first! Being flexible enough to bump to another weekend, back to a Friday, or ahead to a Sunday can save heartburn.
3. Book and drop your deposit.
Once you have your venue and date, book it, contract, and drop that deposit to lock it up!
4. Determine what is important to you and spend your money on those things.
Are you into massive arrays of flowers? Are you a foodie? Do you want great memories that will last many, many years? Do you want a huge party with amazing drinks? Do you want it to be small, quiet, and intimate? Answer these questions before you contract anyone.
5. Be honest when interviewing vendors
Tell the various vendors that you're in Interview Mode and that you will make a decision by ___ date. That takes the pressure off of them (and you) to make a decision on the spot.
6. Ask for references...and contact them.
Let’s be honest, vendors can sometimes embellish the truth. Look for references on social media and look at their pictures from their events. Ask their references for pictures from their events. Most brides have a list of regrets or things they would have done differently. Ask their references what they did not like, what they would have done differently.
7. Do not overlook the entertainment.
Once you say “I Do,” your event is in the hands of the DJ. Most of the frowns we regularly see are from brides being unhappy with their DJ. Whatever your plans are, spend good money on the entertainment. Don’t know where to start in looking for a DJ? Ask the venue for recommendations! When booking the DJ, ask if they will give a discount for paying in full at time of contracting (some DJs will give a 10% discount for cash up front). Find out if they bundle services (DJ, photo booth, etc).
8. Get event insurance and event cancellation insurance.
It’s not expensive and can usually be purchased through homeowners insurance or your parents’ insurance. Event insurance protects you in case of venue damage or personal injury. Cancellation insurance is there in case of catastrophic loss (hurricane, tornado, etc) and can include injury or illness cancellation. Weigh the amount your spending and see if a few hundred dollars is worth the risk.
9. Consider a Day-of-Coordinator.
Many times, a coordinator will be able to steer you towards vendors who are a good fit for you. They may also be able to get better pricing from companies due to the volume they send their way. Cost/benefit analysis will always be your friend!
Careful planning and vetting of the vendors and your venue can save you if there is a major issue. If you have a great venue, they will have contingency plans in place in case of a service failure by one of your vendors.
We hope this helps all of the brides who are starting their planning. Remember this: your day is just the first of a lifetime. You're founding a dynasty, make sure it comes off with smiles!